John Maltbie, the interim San Mateo County manager, is proposing cutting 234 positions in county government for the 2012-13 budget while at the same time proposing to spend $2 million to improve the meandering and controversial trail along Alpine Road between Menlo Park and Portola Valley.
Mr. Maltbie outlined the budget spending priorities in a statement today (May 30). The Alpine Road trail project comes fourth in a list of eight spending priorities. Among them:
■ $44.2 million for the first phase of planning a new 576-bed county jail "to replace the aging and outdated Women's Correctional Center and to relieve chronic overcrowding in men's facilities."
■ $9.7 million for tenant and seismic improvements to Circle Star South, a county-owned building for dispatchers for public safety communications and for the county's emergency operations center.
■ $2.7 million to fund "realignment," part of a 2011 initiative by Gov. Jerry Brown to gradually transfer oversight from the state to the counties of parolees and prisoners convicted of "non-violent, non-serious and non-sex-related" crimes.
■ $3.4 million to pay for Sheriff's Office patrol services to the city of Millbrae. (Portola Valley and Woodside also contract with the Sheriff's Office for patrol services.)
■ $1.5 million to comply with negotiated salary and benefit increases. "The modest ... increase in salary and benefits countywide is mainly for step increases for certain employees and negotiated raises for nurses," the county statement said.
The $1.83 billion budget proposal assumes the passage in the June 5 election of ballot measures T, U and X. If a simple majority of voters approve them, these measures would increase annual revenues by $13 million when rental car, parking and hotel businesses pass the new taxes on to their customers, most of whom are visitors to the county.
Mr. Maltbie's statement did not elaborate on which departments would take the proposed cuts in staffing. A public hearing before the Board of Supervisors is set for 9 a.m. Monday, June 18, in the board chambers in the Hall of Justice at 400 County Center in Redwood City.
Proposed cutbacks include $1.1 million in "efficiency measures" in information technology services, another $1.1 million by eliminating a fire engine company in San Mateo, and $2.7 million in cutbacks at the county medical center.
"By the end of fiscal year 2012-13, the county will have eliminated a net of 766 positions or about a one-sixth of its work force," Mr. Maltbie said. "While there is some improvement in the local economy and stabilizing of revenues the county still faces many financial challenges."
"We can no longer assume that what once worked well will work well in the future," he added. "Help will not be forthcoming from Washington, D.C., or Sacramento. I am convinced that the only way forward is to remake the organization in a way that will provide financial stability and flexibility to meet the uncertainties ahead of us."
Go to this link and click on links under the "Current Budget" heading for more details.
Alpine Road trail
Stanford University had proposed spending about $10 million to redesign the section of Alpine Road trail under consideration in this proposal, but a majority on the Board of Supervisors rejected the plan in December 2011.
A large majority of residents of Stanford Weekend Acres opposed the plan, in part because of the complicated logistics of creating a multi-use 8-foot-wide asphalt trail. A last-minute option to simply repave the existing trail came too late for significant study by the board, but did emerge as a viable alternative for the county.